“Does a monogamous, consenting, loving homosexual relationship have any capacity to be honoring to the Lord?” the young woman sitting across from me nervously asked. Because the answer directly affected her future and how she lived her life as a Christian struggling with same-sex attraction.
When looking at what scripture says about sexuality, it is helpful to note two things: what God commands and His design. Looking at both can aid in answering the young woman’s question.
If you’re a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction, your temptation does not define you. Your desires do not define you. Your sin struggle is not your identity. As a Christian, your identity is: a child of God and co-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:14-17). All people, whether saved or unsaved, are image-bearers of Almighty God. Do not equate what you do with who you are. Instead, define yourself by Whose you are and what your Heavenly Father says about you.
With this, know that there are hope and help in Christ. Whatever your temptation or struggle, He provides grace for today (James 4:6), strength to resist temptation (1 Cor. 10:13), forgiveness for sin (1 John 1:9) and all that is required to grow in godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). I do want to clarify that feeling tempted to engage in sin is not sin. However, acting on that temptation in any way is. We know this is true because Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus was tempted but did not sin.
God’s commands about homosexuality
In both the Old and New Testaments we see homosexual behavior condemned by God. Leviticus 20:13 calls it a “detestable act,” and Leviticus 18:22 uses even stronger language, referring to homosexual sex as “an abomination” to God.
In the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 6:9 describes people who have homosexual sex as “the unrighteous,” and in Romans 1:26-27, Paul depicts homosexual relationships as being “contrary to nature” and an example of “dishonorable passions.” They are contrary to nature because they go against the complementary design of men’s and women’s bodies. According to God’s design, there is to be diversity in gender and a oneness, a unity, that occurs when engaging in intercourse.
Why does God have such resistance to homosexual relationships? Because they go against His design.
When God created the universe, He could have chosen any number of ways to make people. He could have designed only one gender, but He chose to design two. When God instituted marriage in Genesis 2, He framed it to be between one man and one woman. But this has a greater purpose than just how He chose to do things. How so? Because earthly marriage is a copy of something greater — it’s not the original.
In Ephesians 5:23 we learn that the marriage of a husband and wife reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church. Earthly marriage is a parable, pointing to this greater relationship, and in this way, sex is symbolic of the relational intimacy between Christ and His Bride.
Therefore, homosexuality tells the wrong story. It says that instead of Christ and the Church, there can be Christ and Christ or the Church and the Church. It does not consider the necessity of diversity in the greater story of what God is accomplishing in human history because it’s missing one of the leading roles, either Christ or the Church. Heterosexual sex — not homosexual sex — correctly tells the gospel story.
Coming back to the young woman’s question: it is not possible for any homosexual relationship to be honoring to the Lord, even if it is monogamous, consenting and loving. As I write this, I know it will be difficult for some to read. It will be difficult because it goes against what some hearts and bodies desire. It will be difficult because it means celibacy is the path ahead for same-sex attracted Christians.